Self-motivation is essential for success. When self-motivation does not push us toward accomplishment, outside influences have a tendency to pull us toward mediocrity. Procrastination is consistently failing to pursue the goals you have set in a timely manner, which leads to deflated self-motivation. Why do we procrastinate? Why do we unnecessarily put off something that we have decided in advance is important?
On reason is laziness. Sometimes we don’t do things we know we should so because we simply don’t like doing them. Maybe they’re unpleasant or take more effort than we care to expend. If you fall into this trap, use your goals to focus and remind yourself of the rewards you anticipate receiving by achieving your goals, as well as the potential consequences of not achieving your goals. When you’re pursuing goals you believe in, you’ll be too excited and motivated to be lazy.
Another cause of procrastination is apathy. If you catch yourself procrastinating, ask yourself whether you truly desire to achieve the goal in question. Maybe your lack of enthusiasm is telling you that you need to reevaluate your direction.
The largest cause of procrastination is typically fear. Understanding the nature of fear can help you overcome it. If fear of the unknown immobilizes you don’t imitate an ostrich and stick your head in the sand. Use the goal setting process to reduce your fear. Identify all of the obstacles that stand between where you are now and where you want to be. Develop solutions to overcome them. Fears immediately begin to subside when you turn the unknown into knowns.
Fear of failure is another common fear that has a tendency to hold us back. All worthwhile goals pose the risk of failure. Realistically high goals, the only kind that are meaningful and useful, lie somewhere beyond what you know for certain you can accomplish. Failure is a necessary component of progress. If you reach for a worthwhile goal, you might fail. But if you don’t try at all, you have truly failed. It’s virtually impossible to grow and achieve without failing at times along the way. But failure during your journey does not constitute the failure of your journey. Successful people often try, fail, try again, fail again, and try again before they succeed. They view failure as an essential part of the learning process on the path to their ultimate destination.
Adults tend to lose perspective on failure. We forget how many times as children we failed to tie our shoes before we succeeded. We forget how many times we fell before we learned to walk, skate, ski, or ride a bike. When you stop failing, you stop learning. If you struggle with fear of failure, examine the cause. Is there an issue with pride? Are you afraid of what others might think if you fail? Understanding the source of your fear will help you overcome it.
Fear of rejection and fear of criticism detour many from their journeys to success. Rather than face the possible rejection, some people simply don’t ask for what they need. Rather than face possible criticism, they conceal their true abilities and never display their full potential. Every team leader must rely on team members to get something accomplished. In order to attain our dreams and goals, no matter what they invariably ask others for their support, participation, assistance, or commitment. And every time we ask, we face the possibility of reject or criticism.